Thursday, March 8, 2018

Brownshirt American law student goons strike close to home

I have two connections with the events described in this link,

One connection is that I was a founder of the Federalist Society’s New York City chapter decades ago, and have been a member since then. The other is that an organization of which I am chairman has recently contributed a scholarship to the law school that is the subject of the article.

That’s the reason I’m posting below the incisive essay by Robert Tracinski that appeared in The Tracinski Letter a few days ago. It deserves wide distribution, not only to those of us who understand what has happened in the Academy, but more importantly to those who do not. (The italics in the author’s penultimate paragraph is mine.)

March 5, 2018
We Gave You a Pretty Awesome World, Kids, So Try Not to Mess It Up
The Parkland Kids Demonstrate Why We Shouldn't Listen to Them
by Robert Tracinski

All the reasons for refusing to allow ourselves to be led by children were summed up in the latest coronation of the Parkland kids, this time by ancient leftist Bill Maher. He invited David Hogg and Cameron Kasky on his show so Hogg could boast about hanging up on the President of the United States, and so Kasky could give us this sanctimonious little lecture: "I mean this sincerely, I really do, to all the generations before us, we sincerely accept your apology. We appreciate that you are willing to let us rebuild the world that you f---ed up." 

This sums up everything that's wrong with these kids' astroturfed ride to fame. They get flown around the country, they get invited on TV, they get puffball interviewers like Bill Maher, all because they are willing to repeat in a cloyingly self-righteous manner the message favored by their adult handlers. But not because they actually know what they're talking about. 

Let's look at their arrogant presumption that previous generations messed up the world, so that today's kids, in their superior wisdom, have to "rebuild" it. 

Start with the issues most directly at hand here. School shootings are actually down over the last 20 years. Northeastern University Professor James Alan Fox analyzed the data and concluded that mass school shootings are "extremely rare events" and that "there is not an epidemic of school shootings."
Moreover, Fox adds that "over the past 35 years, there have been only five cases in which someone ages 18 to 20 used an assault rifle in a mass shooting," meaning that the most common proposed new gun control measure would have little effect. 

Speaking of guns, you might think that without gun control, we're living in a lawless post-apocalyptic hellscape. In fact, crime is down. Murders are down. Violent crimes committed with guns are way down

This is the period in which restrictions on gun ownership have been substantially rolled back--the assault weapons ban of the 1990s was allowed to expire, and Supreme Court rulings invalidated gun bans in cities like Washington and Chicago. Americans now own about 300 million guns. So clearly, gun ownership is not causing an increase in crime rates. In fact, statisticians who looked closely at gun deaths concluded that none of the frequently suggested gun control measures would do much to reduce these numbers. 

But cite these statistics and you will be told that you cannot contradict the Parkland kids because being present at the scene of a mass shooting makes them unquestionable experts on the topic. No, really. Kasky tells us, "We've seen our friends text their parents goodbye. We are the experts." I can hear Tom Nichols grinding his teeth from here. Obviously, being an expert on guns, crime, and mass shootings requires actual knowledge and research, including the ability to read and understand crime statistics. 

This presumption that we adults have ruined the world has wider roots. Today's young people are bombarded with a lot of doom and gloom that tells them everything is getting worse, pushed onto them by people who have an interest in recruiting them as activists. 

They may be surprised to learn, for example, that in addition to crime being down, war has decreased across the globe. The number of wars and the number of deaths in wars decreased dramatically after World War II, of course, but it decreased dramatically again when the Soviet Union collapsed, almost as if Communism was an engine of global conflict. 

Along with war, extreme poverty across the world is down significantly over recent decades and especially since the Industrial Revolution

America has done especially well. Median family income in America is nearly triple what is was in 1950. The rich have gotten richer, and the poor have also gotten richer

Surely, all of this economic growth is ruining the environment. Yet according to the EPA, US GDP has grown by 253% since 1970, while emissions of "six common pollutants"--things like lead, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide--are down 73%. Our air and water are about as clean as they have ever been. 

And so on. The world we older generations have given today's kids is actually pretty awesome. We can't protect them from every danger and every risk, and we can't stop every tragedy like the Parkland shooting. But by historical standards, our kids will be safer, healthier, and wealthier, and they can expect to live longer and more untroubled lives than we did, or than our parents did, or than our grandparents did. 

I can see, though, why they wouldn't realize any of this, because there are some who have a political interest in making things look worse. If you want young people to think capitalism is the cause of war--a view they hear often--you don't want them to find out that the triumph of the capitalist countries in the Cold War led to a decrease in war. If you want them to rail against "global capitalism"--I can't decide if this is a cause of the left or of the right these days--you can't have them realizing that capitalism and trade are wiping out global poverty. If you want them to think free markets are inferior to socialism, you don't want them to understand the massive increases in prosperity in free market societies, or to question the latest environmentalist panic. And if you want them to become televised activists for gun control, you have to create the impression that there is an epidemic of gun crimes and mass shootings. 

The Parkland kids have swallowed all of this, and hence their ignorant ranting to us about how the older generations have messed everything up. 

To be sure, the kids we're seeing on TV are not representative of their peers. We don't hear much about the Parkland students who don't fit the left's narrative. Instead, we're mostly getting a couple of the high-school debate club types. Once I found out that detail, it all fell into place, because we all remember the guys from high-school debate club. They weren't the smartest kids, just the most preening and self-important. 

The important point is that too many of today's young people are not being taught to see and appreciate what has made the world as good a place as it really is for them. They have no idea who designed the large and complex systems that produce the peace and prosperity they enjoy, no idea how those systems work, and no idea how much they can foul them up by knocking out pins and levers and constitutional amendments just because they're angry. 

The fastest way to mess up the world the older generations gave them is to think that they are all experts at age 17 because they read some lefty rhetoric and got "woke." You know who also thought that? The Baby Boomers. People my age--technically, I'm Gen X, but early enough in it that we never thought of ourselves that way--grew up with this. We grew up with smug Boomers like Phil Collins assuring us that, "My generation will put it right. We're not just making promises that we know we'll never keep." Spoiler alert: they didn't keep those promises, and everything turned out just fine. But now the same people who were wrong about war, wrong about poverty, wrong about capitalism, and wrong about guns want to get the grandkids to give one more shot at fixing what isn't broken. 

Then again, they also thought lame hand-puppet parodies of Ronald Reagan were really clever, so the lesson from this is to show a little humility, kids. You're still learning, and you would be well served not to be content to repeat what you learn at school, but to go do your own reading and research and listen to people who disagree with you. It's not as traumatic an experience as you have been led to believe. When you can show that you understand what's good about the world we are giving you, and you have some idea of how it got to be that way--then we'll listen to your ideas for changing it.
To be sure, the previous generations are not entirely blameless. 

We did create cable news, and for some reason none of us can really remember, we made Bill Maher famous. Sorry about that.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Corruption, squared--and then some.

This excellent essay by Michael Ledeen--published today in PJ Media--deserves wide distribution. I urge everyone who receives this essay to read and digest it, and then pass it on. Michael's wider point, per his "bottom line" quotation, is frightening.

So that’s it?

The Russians spent some money buying Americans to demonstrate? Or just found kindred spirits online to do it free? Or, horror of horrors, Russians lied on their visa applications? Or, Americans cheated on their tax returns? Or, Americans made “false statements” to FBI investigators when, as in the Flynn debacle, the bureau had already said there were no lies?

That’s the output thus far from Team Mueller with regard to their mission to investigate whether there was Russian meddling in our presidential election in 2016, and whether Americans “colluded” with the Russians in such endeavors. So far, we haven’t seen anyone indicted for such matters, but we do see truly shocking and genuinely dangerous corruption among the investigators and the enforcers.

The corruption is widespread throughout our society; it runs from the top of the FBI in Washington to the Broward County police in south Florida. Sometimes it seems tied to payoffs and other times it’s rooted in the political corruption that we can easily see. It doesn’t require special prosecutors to show it, and it’s unquestionably the greatest threat we face. Often it takes the form of our “leaders” ignoring real crimes, and alleging “process crimes.”

That is seemingly the Mueller story. Instead of charging collusion, the Mueller team is cracking down on tax evasion. It’s the Al Capone model: when Eliot Ness couldn’t convict Capone and his mob for their terrible crimes, they got him on taxes. The Mueller charges may turn out to be legitimate, but do not fit the official mission statement nor address the serious question of Russian espionage and disinformation.

What’s going on? Reading their private correspondence, it seems that the FBI officials from James Comey and Andrew McCabe on down were primarily interested in the defeat of Trump, both before and after the election, rather than in thwarting Russians. Why? I think primarily because that was the best way to advance, although in time we may find that money was involved. There certainly is money involved in another case where the Justice Department and the FBI failed to act as they clearly should have: the Awan family, which worked for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, gained access to seemingly endless Congressional files and was paid handsomely by Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic Party. One member of the group was astonishingly permitted to leave the country with illegal amounts of cash.

Coincidentally, the Florida school massacre occurred in the congressional district of Wasserman Schultz, and the local police, under criticism for their failure to prevent the bloodletting, are facing dozens of investigations for criminal misconduct.

Lots of corruption. Hard to track it all.

The school massacre fits the pattern of inaction. There was abundant evidence the killer was going to do some terrible thing, but no preventive action was taken. Then the attack took place, and the protectors did nothing. They stayed outside. Are you surprised? Not I. It seems like only yesterday, following the bloodshed in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, that there was a mini-mass movement aimed at the cops who tried to maintain order. Cops and armed guards “learned a lesson.” Don’t intervene, and above all, don’t shoot. Anyone. You may well be punished, at a minimum you’ll likely to be prosecuted, and depending on your good or bad luck, you may be unemployed. Can you say “unpaid leave?”

So when the Florida cops stayed away, I wasn’t surprised. I’m surprised when someone does the tough, good thing.

In some cases, they’ve been ordered to stay away. 

Nearly thirty years ago, Rael Jean Isaac and Virginia Hurt wrote a very important book, Madness in the Streets, documenting the movement that made it all but impossible to place deranged people in mental institutions. But that isn’t what happened in the Broward case. The cops were called to save schoolchildren and they didn’t.

This is corruption. The cops know they are supposed to act (for a while, they were supposed to wait for the SWAT team to arrive, but that is pretty much ancient history). They don’t act, primarily because they dread the consequences of their actions. What if they make a mistake? What if they hit the wrong target and wound or kill a student, say?

Over and over again, we see the same pattern: our leaders have abundant information, but they do not act. Often they act a la the Al Capone model: don’t go after the prime targets for the damage they are doing to us, but for some violation that can be safely prosecuted.

Now go to the top: the highest levels of the FBI, the best of our best. As in Florida, our law-enforcement authorities ignored abundant evidence. We know, from public accounts, that Hillary used a private server for classified government communications. We know that President Obama was in the loop, using a pseudonym. But Obama was the president, and Hillary was in line to succeed him. So if you move against Hillary and she wins, you can kiss goodbye to that bonus, or promotion.
You know you’re supposed to find out what that private server was being used for. It’s a virtual certainty that secrets were sent and received. You’re supposed to say that to the Justice Department, which is supposed to prosecute such violations of national security. Yet, as the cops in Florida, the FBI top brass did nothing of the sort.

Why? In part, surely, because of politics (wherever you look, you find Hillary supporters). But also because the whole system is corrupt. In many ways.

Do you want a job in the next administration? Then you should shut up about such matters.  Which they (mostly) did. You don’t have to be a Democratic loyalist to behave this way. You have only to be ambitious. And once ambition, personal ambition, becomes a central driving force, all sorts of corruption is enabled.

Richard Pollock has found a strikingly high level of sexual malfeasance in Comey’s FBI, suggesting that the Hollywood pattern extends from entertainment into law enforcement. Remember that the Lisa Page-Peter Strock text messages, which have provided an unexpected window into the FBI’s anti-Trump schemes, were part of an adulterous affair. I’ll bet we’ll find plenty of sexual corruption in Broward County before it’s over. There are 66 pending cases of misconduct against Sheriff Israel’s minions. Some of them are heavy favorites to be part of the broader corruption.

Bottom line: As Machiavelli wrote, you can replace a corrupt leader or even a corrupt ruling class. But what do we do if the whole society goes rotten?

That’s our problem.